IV. Travel and Business Expense Policies

Effective February 1, 2011
Finance Department


Table of Contents

I. Purpose
II. Responsibility
III. Approval Process
IV. Travel and Business Expense Policies
A. Air travel 
B. Other forms of travel
C. Car rental 
D. Car rental collision damage waiver and personal accident insurance
E. Use of personal car
F. University owned or leased automobiles
G. Mass transportation
H. Meals and business expenses
I. Lodging
J. Conferences and professional meetings
K. Miscellaneous expenses
L. Expenses not reimbursable by the University
V. Travel Advance Procedures
VI. Expense Report Procedures
VII. Attachments
A. Request For Travel Advance
B. Faculty and Staff Expense Report


These policies apply to University faculty and staff who incur travel or business expenses to be paid by Fairleigh Dickinson University, regardless of the source of funds.  The University will reimburse for reasonable travel, meals, lodging and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the transaction of University business.

This document outlines policies and procedures in general terms to allow reasonable discretion for travelers.  Departments may implement more restrictive policies and procedures which departmental personnel should adhere to.  Vice Presidents and Provosts can make exceptions to this policy in the event of extenuating circumstances, however a written explanation must be included with the request for reimbursement.  In order for business and travel expense reimbursements to remain tax-free to the employee, the policies and procedures that follow must be adhered to. 

A.      Air Travel

1.      Travelers must book the lowest priced, direct, coach class airfare available on a commercial carrier.  Any deviations must be justified and approved in advance.  Airfare receipts must be submitted with the Expense Report whether paid by the employee or the University.

2.      If the traveler wishes to maximize comfort and convenience for travel (i.e., traveling Business or First Class), the traveler must pay the difference between the upgrade and the lower fare.  It is the responsibility of the traveler to provide the appropriate documentation.

3.      A trip may be extended to take advantage of cost savings.  For example, if a conference is scheduled for Sunday through Wednesday, it may be more cost-effective to fly on Saturday and pay for the extra day’s lodging and meals. Arrangements must be approved by the budget officer, and the traveler must document the cost-benefit of extended travel.

4.      Fairleigh Dickinson University will not reimburse travelers for tickets purchased with frequent flyer miles because it is difficult to determine the dollar value of these tickets.  Accumulated awards remain the property of the traveler; however if a traveler arranges a more expensive flight solely based on a Frequent Flyer program, the traveler is responsible for the difference in cost.  Frequent Flyer bonus awards should not be the deciding factor when selecting flights.

5.     Often it is less expensive to purchase airline tickets well in advance of the date of travel.  If that is the case, the traveler may submit proof of purchase along with an approved travel advance form and receive an advance.  When the traveler takes the trip, he/she will need to complete an expense report with appropriate documentation, such as a boarding pass, to clear his/her advance.  This process will avoid putting an unnecessary financial burden on the traveler. 

B.     Other Forms of Travel

The University will reimburse individuals for other forms of travel for business purposes, including but not limited to train, subway, and bus travel.

C.  Car Rental

The use of a rented automobile is usually justified in the following situations:

1.      When public transportation is inadequate, and a University or personally owned automobile is not available for travel to the business meeting or conference.

2.      When an automobile is the only practical mode of travel to a destination, e.g., a meeting or conference location is remote to an air or rail terminal.

The rental receipt must be submitted with an Expense Report documenting the need for rental of the auto and points of origin and destination.  Two or more people traveling on the same schedule from the point of origin to the same destination should share a rented automobile.  One member of the group must pay for the automobile rental and request reimbursement.  The Expense Report must indicate the names of the other employees sharing the automobile. Fuel costs will be reimbursed based upon actual fuel purchased, not mileage.

The use of a rented car for personal purposes is not reimbursable under any circumstances.  If a rented car is used for both business and personal purposes, only the portion of the car rental applicable to business should be entered on the Expense Report.  The report should indicate that the balance of the rental charge applies to personal use of the car.  

Automobiles must be rented, in most cases, in the basic intermediate size class.  If an individual rents a more expensive automobile at a premium rate and cannot document the need, he/she must pay the difference in cost (to be determined by the individual responsible for verification procedures).  The traveler must also ask if there is a corporate rate available.

D.     Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver and Personal Accident Insurance

The University carries blanket liability insurance covering all employees during business travel.  Therefore, when asked, the employee should deny coverage for collision damage and personal accident insurance.  The traveler should request a “Certificate of Insurance Form” from the University Risk Management Department at 201-692-7083, prior to renting the vehicle.  In the case of an accident, the employee must contact the University Risk Management Department at 201-692-7083 for instructions on how to process any claim, which may arise.  A police report and any other information must be obtained so that claim information can be completed.

E.      Use of a Personal Car

1.      Use of a personal car for business travel and travel between campuses will be reimbursed at a rate not in excess (at or below) the rate established by the IRS, plus toll and parking charges.  The IRS rate for standard auto expenses is subject to periodic revision by the IRS.  Effective September 1, 2008 the University reimbursement rate is 48 cents per mile.  This rate is intended to offset expenses, such as gasoline, oil, repairs, insurance, etc., for operating and maintaining a personal automobile used for business purposes.  Operating and maintenance expenses, therefore, as well as other personal expenses, such as parking tickets, traffic violations, car repairs, and collision damage are not reimbursable.  However, the University’s blanket liability insurance does cover third party liability when a personal auto is used for University business.

2.      Travel between the office and home (commuting) is not a business expense.

3.      Intercampus travel to attend scheduled administrative meetings is considered University business and reimbursable. Travel between the Teaneck/Hackensack and Florham Park/Madison campuses for business purposes is reimbursable at 40 miles each way.

4.      If an employee does not report to the office, but goes directly to another location, he/she will be reimbursed for the mileage in excess of what would normally be traveled between the home and the office as follows: 

  • Determine the total number of business-related miles traveled during the day, beginning and ending at your residence.
  • Subtract from that total your base mileage (normal commuting distance) when making a round trip between your residence and your assigned office.
  • The difference is your allowable reimbursed miles.  Documentation for reimbursed mileage amounts must include the above calculation, destination and business purpose. For example, if a normal round trip commute is 20 miles per day and on a particular day, business appointments raise the total to 50 miles, then claimed reimbursement can be for 30 miles. 

5.      The employee’s supervisor is responsible for monitoring compliance with reimbursement policies regarding use of personal automobiles.

F.      University Owned or Leased Automobiles

Certain employees are assigned leased or University-owned automobiles.  Such cars are tagged, issued, and maintained by the University.  The tax treatment of personal use of leased autos is the subject of a separate policy.  When using a University vehicle for business travel, gas expenses will be reimbursed at the actual costs paid by the traveler, not the mileage rate.  Tolls and parking fees are also reimbursable.

G.    Mass Transportation

Itemized fares for subway, surface transportation or taxi charges while out of town are reimbursable.  Expense Reports must show points of origin and destination and describe the business purpose of the expense.

H.    Meal and Business Expenses

1.      Fairleigh Dickinson University will reimburse travelers for reasonable meal expenses (breakfast, lunch and dinner) incurred while traveling on or conducting University business.  As with other expenditures, original receipts must be submitted with an expense report.  Employees are expected to use discretion regarding food and beverage costs incurred.  Entertainment by University employees is discouraged, and must be used judiciously and only in those cases where there is a business purpose to be served.

a)      Original receipts must be submitted as support for expenses.  Photocopies of invoices, credit card statements, charge slips accompanying the monthly billing statements, receipts or restaurant stubs are not acceptable unless the original document was lost and a signed memorandum is attached to the Expense Report giving full explanation of the circumstances. 

b)      A receipt is defined as a written acknowledgement that a specified remittance, article or delivery has been made.  At a minimum, the name of the payee, date, and amount should appear on the receipt. 

c)      When more than one University employee is present at a “business meal event”, the most senior employee must pick up the tab.  An individual may not approve business meals or entertainment expenses when he or she also attended the event.

2.      The Internal Revenue Code requires specific details for business meal expenses.  These details must be provided with the expense report, in order to obtain reimbursement:

  • Amount
  • Date
  • Name and location of establishment
  • Place and nature of entertainment
  • Purpose, including the nature of discussion
  • Names, titles and business relationships of all attending

3.      Local Luncheon Expenses and One-Day Travel

a)      Local lunch expenses are not normally reimbursable unless there is a business purpose for a lunch.  Requests for reimbursement must include explanations of the need for special consideration.  A business purpose would generally include non-University personnel.  Dining among University employees is generally a personal expense and not reimbursable.

b)      Lunch expenses are reimbursable during one-day travel and employees are expected to use discretion regarding food and beverage costs incurred.  In limited cases, breakfast and dinner expenses will be reimbursed if it is necessary to purchase the evening meal.

4.      Expenses of Spouses or Other Family Members

In general, expenses incurred by a spouse or other member of an employee’s family are not reimbursable.  Exceptions may be made in business entertainment situations that require the spouse to be present.  Such circumstances should always be approved in advance, and should be documented on the Expense Report.

I.       Lodging

1.      Fairleigh Dickinson University will pay actual room costs, as supported by the detailed hotel bill, for each day that lodging away from home is required for business purposes.  Hotel and motel accommodations must be in the mid-price range for the geographic location.  Acceptable hotel accommodations would include those at large national chains oriented to business travelers.  Hotel charges should generally be prepaid by the University.  If paid by the employee,  reimbursement will be made for the amounts shown on the detailed bill.  Charges other than room and taxes (i.e., telephone, room service charges, movies, etc.) should be separated and not included in lodging expenses on the Expense Report.  Itemized hotel bills must be documented on the Expense Report and the bill must be attached.

The University is exempt from sales tax (but not occupancy tax) in several states.  Currently there are exemption agreements in the following states: New Jersey (Form ST-5), New York, Maine, Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois.  Some vendors will accept the sales tax exemption form presented by the traveler.  The form should be completed by the traveler and presented to the front desk upon arrival. Upon departure, the itemized bill should be reviewed to verify that the sales tax was not charged. The University will reimburse travelers for the sales tax in states where there is not an exemption agreement.  Copies of these forms can be obtained from the Accounts Payable Department at 201-692-2088. 

Certain vendors will not accept the sales tax exemption form from the traveler and will indicate that the University must be billed directly.  In that case, a properly completed and approved check request should be submitted to Accounts Payable.

2.      Room Rates: Hotel room rates can vary widely depending upon geographic locations.  Employees must use discretion in selecting hotels and generally must request single occupancy or other economical room types.  Suites or higher-priced rooms are not considered necessary accommodations.

When employees share a double room, one should pay the hotel bill and request reimbursement.  The Expense Report should indicate that the room was shared with other (named) employees.

3.      Expenses of Spouses or Other Family Members: No reimbursements will be made for expenses incurred by a spouse or other family member with one exception.  When business entertainment is involved and it is essential that the spouse be present, a reimbursement will be made for expenses of the employee’s spouse.

An employee traveling with a spouse or other family member(s) must request reimbursement for the single room rate when the hotel bill indicates double occupancy.

4.      Hotel Accommodations Near the University: Except in unusual circumstances, hotel or motel charges incurred within fifty miles of the University, or the employee’s residence, are not reimbursable.  If a reimbursement is requested, documentation of the circumstances, along with the supervisor’s prior approval, must be submitted with the Expense Report.  The following exceptions are generally reimbursable:

a)      When attending a scheduled multi-day conference, course, or off-site meeting.

b)      When entertaining business guests.

J.      Conferences and Professional Meetings

The conference agenda (meeting schedule) must be included with the Expense Report to support the business purpose of the trip.  It is understood that travelers may stay at the conference hotel, when attending a conference, even though it may not be the most economical option available. If meals are included in the conference fee, but the traveler chooses to eat elsewhere, the expenses are not reimbursable. 

K.     Miscellaneous Expenses

  1. Telephone Calls: Telephone charges incurred while traveling will be reimbursed when such costs relate directly to University business.  Documentation of business purpose and person called is required. The University will reimburse employees for one “unspecified” call home each day.  The necessity for frequent calls must be documented.  Telephone charges on hotel bills submitted for reimbursement must be documented on the Expense Report.
  2. Cellular and Home Telephone Charges: Cellular and home telephone charges relating to University business will be reimbursed up to $20 per month.  Fairleigh Dickinson University's cell phone policy can be found by clicking here (specifically section 5.2).
  3. Laundry (dry cleaning, etc.), unless travel is over 7 consecutive days, and Valet Services expenses, generally, are not reimbursable.
  4. Tips:

    a) Tips are reimbursable for normal services associated with business travel such as food services, porters, etc.  Tips included on meal receipts will be reimbursed.

    b) Tips must be reasonable, and any unusual amounts must be explained.  Use the following general guidelines for tipping: 15% for meals, $1 for doormen, $1 per bag for bellman/skycaps and 10% for taxi.

    c) Reasonable tips for room service at hotels are reimbursable where the charge is properly documented as necessary due to meeting and/or entertainment of business guests.

  5. Local Tolls/Parking Charges: Parking charges and taxi charges incurred on regular workdays are generally not reimbursable. In those limited instances when reimbursement is appropriate, toll and parking receipts must be attached to the Expense Report to document charges.
  6. Subscription & Membership in Professional and Other Organizations: These expenses must relate to University business, be approved in advance, processed on a check request and paid by the University.  These expenses should not be submitted on Expense Reports.
  7. Credit Cards: The University will not reimburse employees for credit card fees or late charges.
  8. Employee Recruitment: Travel for prospective employees and their families must be authorized by the school or department in order to be reimbursed.  Reimbursements for authorized travel expenses such as airfare, hotel and meals incurred during the recruitment process are not taxable to the prospective employee.  Prospective employees are not covered by University insurance. 

    Once an offer of employment has been accepted, travel expenses incurred by the prospective employee and family and paid by the University are considered taxable.
  9. International Travel: Reimbursable international expenses include expenditures incurred for travel, personal meals, business meals and entertainment, lodging, passport fees, airport taxes, exchange rate fees, and other items necessary for the conduct of University business. 

Expense Reports must be submitted in US dollars with an explanation and translation of the foreign receipts and their conversions.  Travelers must use the currency rates that were in effect when travel took place. 

L.     Expenses Not Reimbursable By the University

The following is presented only as a guide and is not intended to be a complete list of expenses which are not reimbursable by the University. 

1.      Airline, car rental and travel insurance in addition to the amount provided free through the university. 

2.      Portion of air travel, train travel, auto rental, mileage, hotel costs, or meals for personal use. 

3.      Upgrades for air travel, hotel or car rental. 

4.      Traffic fines, court costs, parking violations, and auto repairs. 

5.      Unused room reservations not properly cancelled. 

6.      Annual premiums for personal property insurance, or annual fees for personal credit cards including liability insurance for lost cards. 

7.      Personal expenses such as movies, snacks, haircuts, reading materials, toiletries, etc.

8.      Transportation from home to office to home. 

9.      Theft, loss or damage to non business-related personal property. 

10.  Contributions to public officials or candidates for public office.

11.  Membership dues, including airline club dues and country club dues, unless authorized by an appropriate authority and substantiated as a business expense.  (see section H-2)

12.  Baby sitter fees, kennel costs, pet or house-sitting fees.

13.  Doctor bills, prescriptions and other medical services.

14.  Monthly Internet line charges from an employee’s personal residence will not be reimbursed, unless appropriate business purpose is documented and approved by an authorized budget officer. 

15.  Spouse travel expenses, when the spouse’s presence is not required by the University. 

16.  Cellular or airphone usage (except when documented with appropriate business purpose).

17.  Credit card delinquency fees or finance charges. 

18.  Saunas, massages or exercise facilities. 

19.  Luncheons, dinners or receptions for such occasions as birthdays, holidays, retirements, baby showers, secretaries’ week, etc.

20.  Lost/stolen cash or personal property.

21.  The purchase of gift cards, gift certificates or any form of a "value added" card to be given, gifted, awarded or raffled to employees or non-employees are not reimbursable by the University.

22.  Any exceptions to the above mentioned items MUST be approved in advance of incurring the expense in each and every case.